Back In The Day | Steele Strikes

Freddie Steele

It may be hard to imagine, but Stoke once had the top scorer in the top flight of English football.

Last season it was Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero before him…but in the 1936-37 campaign it was Freddie Steele.

Born in Hanley, Steele was a goalscoring phenomenon.

He scored 159 goals in 251 matches for Stoke, including 33 strikes during the 1936-37 season.

It was during that campaign that Steele was given international honours, scoring a remarkable six goals in eight games.

He remains Stoke’s joint third highest scoring international of all time, behind Jonathan Walters and Kenwyne Jones and alongside a certain Stanley Matthews- who Steele is pictured alongside above.

He sadly retired from international football at the tender age of 23 having suffered from depression.

But, by scoring 33 league goals during that season he became the first- and to date, only- Stoke player to come top of the goalscoring charts at the highest level.

In fact, only Mark Stein and Peter Thorne have broken the 30 goal-a-season mark since Steele.

His exploits were made even more remarkable by Stoke’s lowly league position that season.

The Potters finished 10th out of 22 teams, in a year that saw Manchester United relegated.

Stoke plundered in 72 goals, with 10 of them coming in one remarkable match against West Bromwich Albion.

Steele scored five as Stoke battered the Baggies 10-3, a scoreline that remains our biggest victory to date. The local public must have been kicking themselves when they picked up the paper the following day. That 10-3 win was seen by the lowest attendance of the season- just 8,224 turned up at the Victoria Ground.

Incidentally, the following campaign Steele scored a hat-trick against West Brom and followed it up with another nap hand in the next match against Derby. Eight goals in two matches is a quite incredible return!

Having recovered from his depression, Steele’s club career was affected by the war, but in 1946 he had the honour of taking charge of Iceland’s first ever international match- laying the earliest foundations for their recent success.

The striker went on to manage Mansfield and Port Vale, but it was his goalscoring exploits at Stoke that he is best remembered for.

A strike record of a goal every 135 minutes is something that is unlikely to ever be replicated in Staffordshire.

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